The Ultimate Guide for Summer Camp Packing

Introduction

Is this your first summer sending your child to camp? Maybe this is your first summer going to camp without a family member? Or maybe you just want to perfect your camp preparation practices? Getting ready for camp can be stressful and overwhelming leaving you unsure of what to do. That’s why McNeil Scout Ranch is putting together this ultimate guide to getting ready for camp. You will get advice from one of our seasoned staff workers who has been professionally working at camp for five years and personal camping for far longer than that! In this blog we will discuss the different types of summer camps, what to bring to each of them, questions to ask, and some packing tips and tricks to guarantee a stress-free camp preparation. At the end of this blog is a packing list specifically for McNeil Scout Ranch.

Types of Summer Camps

Day Camps

These camps are exactly what they sound like, a camp you visit during the day but do not spend the night at. Typically, these camps can last from four days to a week but can also run all summer long. These camps are often close to home and would run similar to typical school day hours where campers get dropped off in the morning and picked up each day before the evening. Sometimes day camps have scheduled outings where all of the campers visit another location, kind of like a field trip. These camps can either be indoors or outdoors or a combination of both.

Residential Camps

These camps are typically overnight camps. The length of stay can range from four nights to a week to even the whole summer. Campers will sleep in either tents or cabins next to other campers their age or next to the other participants they came to camp with. These camps have a variety of activities in the day and the night.

Campsite Rentals

Campsite rentals allow for anyone to rent a lot of land for a couple of nights to a week. These spots can either have places to tent camp, RV camp, or cabin camp and some provide rentals for camping gear/recreational activities. When camping at a campsite there is often no activities planned out by the business or organization and you are simply renting the space for a certain amount of time. Hiking trails and lakes are often nearby.

Scout Affiliated Camps

Scout camps can either be run through Girl Scouts of the USA or Boy Scouts of America. These camps can either be a day camp or an overnight camp and vary in length and sleeping situations. Some scout camps have programs where you spend each night in a different location and spend the days hiking, boating, horseback riding, ATVing, etc. to the next location. Examples of this would include Philmont Scout Ranch which has backpacking trips or Northern Tier which has canoe trips. Campers will sleep next to members of the same sex and similar age in their troop.

Our Camp – McNeil Scout Ranch at Peaceful Valley

With more than 3,300 acres of land, there are endless possible adventures available for Scouts of all ages at McNeil Scout Ranch at Peaceful Valley. This regional camp includes a swimming pool, two lakes, Olympic shotgun shooting range (along with world-class rifle and archery ranges), one of Colorado’s premier mountain biking courses, natural rocking climbing areas, trading post, dining hall, a themed outpost camp, and that barely scratches the surface! Additionally, it’s near Colorado Springs and surrounding areas where campers go white water rafting, hike a 14er, or explore caves. The camp is located at 7,000 feet in elevation near the town of Elbert, Colorado. McNeil Scout Ranch runs as a weeklong summer camp for Scouts BSA and Cub Scouts during the summer season and can be rented out for other activities and camping in the off-season.  We recommend you bring your own tent but do offer tents to use. For the purpose of this blog, we will be discussing the packing needs for our specific camp when it comes to the scout affiliated sections.

What to Pack for Each Camp Type

Day Camps

Before heading to your day camp, you should read all of the instructions and information they give you and be aware if they provide meals or if you need to provide your own. Day camps are unlikely to have refrigerators or microwaves so keep this in mind if you need to pack a lunch. It is a good idea to bring a backpack to day camps and you should avoid string backpacks as those may become uncomfortable if worn for a while. What you put in your backpack depends on the type of day camp you are going to and whether its inside or outside but here is a list of things to consider packing. No matter the type of camp you should always pack a water bottle.

  • Change of clothes
  • Good walking shoes
  • Swim gear (swimsuit, goggles, swim shoes, towel)
  • Bug protection
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer

Some fun things I brought to day camps as a kid include handheld fans and cooling scarfs. Both of these help keep you cool in hot weather and are small and easy to pack/carry for day hikes.

It would also be a good idea to pack a snack if the camp is not providing one. Some great snack ideas include apples, oranges, granola, popcorn, pretzels, and veggies with a dip. You should try your best to avoid snacks that have any sort of nuts in them as it is fairly likely someone at the camp is allergic to them.

Overnight Residential Camps

Just like the day camps, there is a variety of overnight camps that all call for different things to pack. Here is a base list of things to pack for overnight camping.

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Hammock
  • Card games, book, or journal, sport equipment
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Layered clothing
  • Change of clothes
  • Good walking shoes
  • Camp shoes to lounge in
  • Hiking boots
  • Swim gear (swimsuit, goggles, swim shoes, towel)
  • Bug protection
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toiletries  (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.)
  • Two reusable water bottles
  • Day backpack
  • Portable charger
  • Waterproof camera or other photo device
  • Pillow
  • Fleece blanket
  • Socks (Pack 2-4 extra pairs)
  • Raincoat/rain pants
  • Shower shoes like flipflops or crocs
  • Letter writing supplies for longer stays (envelopes, stamps, paper, writing utensils, addresses)
  • Wristwatch
  • Prescription medications in Ziploc bag with first and last name written on it.

Campsite Rentals

Because campsite rentals don’t typically offer anything except the plot of land to camp on you need to remember to bring everything else like cooking equipment and any sort of entertainment you want.

  • Camping stove with fuel
  • Cookware
  • Utensils (Both for cooking and eating)
  • Two reusable water bottles
  • Water filtration
  • towel and soap
  • Small cutting board
  • Food
  • Bear Bin if backpacking
  • Toilet paper
  • Portable GPS
  • Compass and map
  • Portable Chargers
  • Pen or pencil
  • Two-way radios (If you’ll be in a larger group)
  • Flashlights or headlamps (And extra batteries)
  • Lightweight hat
  • Sun hat
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Wool socks
  • Hiking Boots
  • Shower Shoes
  • Camp Shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Long pants & long-sleeved shirts
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Bug spray and itch relief
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletry kit (with a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, soap etc.)
  • Prescription medications
  • Pain Medication
  • Tent (Double check you have all the necessary poles and stakes)
  • Mallet
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow
  • Folding chairs
  • Pocket knife/Multi tool
  • Camera
  • Playing cards
  • Journal/book/Sketchbook
  • Bikes/boats/ATVs

Scout Camps

Just like the other camps, what you bring drastically depends on which camp you’re going to. At the bottom of this blog will be a packing list for McNeil Scout Ranch At Peaceful Valley. I will include here some scouting-specific items you don’t want to forget!

  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Pocket Knife with Toten Chip
  • Prescription Medications in a Ziploc bag with your first and last name written on it
  • Your scout book for rank requirements
  • A mess kit if you are patrol cooking
  • Money for the camp store ($10-50)

Questions to Ask Before You Start Packing

Here are a few things that could be helpful to know before you pack for summer camp:

  1. Where will you store your clothes?
  2. Is there laundry available?
  3. Will you campers need multiple outfits per day?
  4. Are there bathrooms in cabins or is there a separate shower house?
  5. Are there flushable toilets or latrines?
  6. Where will you put your clothes if they’re wet?
  7. Is there a camp store?
  8. Can an adult send packages to the camp?
  9. Are there any extra events or trips during the camp term that would require specialized gear?
  10. Are you able to bring your own snacks?
  11. If you have food allergies, how are those handled at camp?

Most camps will provide a welcome packet that includes most of this information. But you may also want to give them a call/send an email if it is your first year and you are unsure.

Tips and Tricks for Camp Preparation

Know your camp

Depending on the type of camp and the current fire safety regulations you may be able to have a campfire. If so, you should check the fire safety rules for the specific camp and the state you are in. Some camps have other special rules like what types of vehicles or boats you can bring to the campsite. Campsites even have rules on whether you can bring your pet so be sure to do your research before signing up for a camp if you plan to bring one. Most camps have a list of prohibited items.

Don’t forget to label

It is likely your belongings are going to get mixed up with someone else’s at some point or even lost. It is important to label all of your belongings with your first initial and last name in case this happens. Most camps have some sort of lost and found for you to check but you are far more likely to get the item back if it’s labeled. Some examples of commonly lost items that show up in our lost and found include backpacks, clothes, shoes, towels, water bottles, and pocketknives. You can prevent this by labeling your items with masking tape and marker, sewing a name in, or writing it in with a permanent marker.

Pack in cubes

You can separate your items by using fabric storage separation bags. This way you can combine like items together to stay more organized.

Consider different containers to pack in

A duffle bag or plastic bin are great options to pack your belongings in. We recommend avoiding suitcases as they will be hard to roll around camp. A large hiking backpack is also a good option for light packing. If you want to challenge yourself and pack light at the same time, try packing everything you need in a 5-gallon bucket, this can double as a seat for around the campfire.

Bring a laundry bag

Bringing an empty laundry bag is a good idea so you can separate your clothes after they are dirty and stay more organized. You should do this even if there isn’t a place to wash your clothes there.

Packing List for McNeil Scout Ranch

Clothes

  • Lightweight hat
  • Sun hat
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Wool socks
  • Hiking Boots
  • Shower Shoes
  • Camp Shoes (Must be closed toed)
  • Sunglasses
  • Long pants & long-sleeved shirts
  • Swimsuit 
  • Scouting class A
  • Scouting class B
  • Belt

Personal Items

  • Wristwatch
  • Sunscreen (you can not share sunscreen with other campers)
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Bug spray and itch relief
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletry kit (with a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, soap etc.)
  • Prescription medications you need to take in a Ziploc bag with first and last name written on it (Scoutmaster or parent should drop with off at Med Lodge)
  • Your scout book for rank requirements
  • A mess kit if you are patrol cooking
  • Prescription glasses if needed and a glasses strap

Camp Necessities

  • Compass
  • Portable Chargers for any device you bring
  • Pen or pencil
  • Flashlights or headlamps (And extra batteries)
  • Tent if you don’t want to share or are not using provided tents (Double check you have all the necessary poles and stakes)
  • Mallet
  • Sleeping pad if you aren’t using our tents
  • Pillow
  • Folding chairs
  • Pocket knife (only if you have your toten chip, make sure to bring this with you)

Entertainment

  • Camera
  • Travel-sized board games
  • Playing cards
  • Journal/book/Sketchbook
  • Bike (Don’t forget a helmet and remember to sign our bike agreement upon arrival)
  • Money for the camp store ($10-50)

Closing

For more information on McNeil Scout Ranch at Peaceful Valley visit: https://www.denverboyscouts.org/camps/peaceful-valley-scout-ranch/

Published by heatherdiviness

Media Specialist for McNeil Scout Ranch at Peaceful Valley

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